Dodgers make nice with fan who caught Ohtani home run ball

“It all happened so fast!”

Lifelong Dodgers fan Ambar Roman recalled snagging Shohei Ohtani’s first home run ball as a Dodger on Wednesday night.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Ohtani connected with a pitch from San Francisco Giants reliever Taylor Rogers, launching the ball 430 feet into right-center field, extending his team’s lead over their California rival in a game that would eventually end in a 5-4 Dodgers win.

When all was said and done, the ball ended up in Roman’s hands. But not for very long.

“Once the commotion settled, security approached and said they wanted to speak with me. They said they wanted to reward me for catching the ball,” Roman said in an interview with KTLA.

She says security escorted her down near the bullpen to talk with team officials, separating her from her husband. Roman says the unnamed officials told her that Ohtani really wanted his first home run ball.

“‘He wants the ball back, and is willing to trade you for it,'” she recalled them saying.

Roman says she wanted to have Ohtani sign the ball, but was told he wouldn’t be willing to sign the ball if she kept it and that the team wouldn’t authenticate it.

“At first they only wanted to give me two hats for the ball,” Roman said.

Roman says she felt pressured to give the ball back and ended up trading the home run ball for two hats, a ball and a bat, all signed by Ohtani.

“It’s a little disheartening as a Dodger fan,” she said. “I’m not sure if it was who we dealt with or it’s how they handle their stuff, but I expected more.”

She says she would’ve loved dugout seats, a signed jersey or to at least meet Ohtani.

It’s unclear how much a home run ball like that could sell for on the open market, but some have estimated it could’ve been worth as much as $100,000.

When asked for comment, a Dodgers spokesperson told KTLA, “We’re sorry they didn’t have a good experience. We’d like to invite them back to the stadium for a special Dodger experience.”

It’s not uncommon for players to want to get back an important milestone from fans who end up with them.

As described by The Athletic, negotiations are typical and customary for significant home run balls.

“There is a give-and-take negotiation between the team and the fan who catches it. The player will generally trade memorabilia and a meet-and-greet with the player in exchange for a ball that represents a meaningful personal achievement,” writes Sam Blum.

You’re never going to be forced to hand over a home run ball if you catch one, but if you’re going to make deal, expect to play hardball.

Roman has since confirmed to The Athletic that she and her husband have taken up the Dodgers on their offer to return to the stadium for a meet-and-greet. She’ll have a chance to meet the entire team and watch the game from field-club level on April 12 — her birthday.

The Dodgers organization said it will also take a look at its procedure for procuring milestone baseballs from the lucky fans who snag them.

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